White house rolls out details on fuel economy, emissions standard

In May,  the Obama administration announced it would move forward on national standards for new vehicle fuel economy and tailpipe greenhouse gas emission.

Today, the White House has announced the final details of that plan.  The AP reports:

The Obama administration is unveiling plans to require higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and tougher rules on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson planned to release the proposed regulations Tuesday. They call for the auto industry’s fleet of new vehicles to average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

Greenwire (via the NYTnotes:

The Obama administration estimated earlier this year the requirements would cost up to $1,300 per new vehicle by 2016 but take just three years to pay off the investment and save about $2,800 over the life of the vehicle through better gas mileage…

A congressional official briefed on the details said the proposal was expected to increase vehicle fuel efficiency by about 5 percent annually, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons and save an average car buyer more than $3,000 in fuel costs. The plan would also conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil, according to the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly in advance of the White House announcement.

This improvement will take effect four years ahead of 2007 law approved by Congress, which required a 35 MPG average by 2020.  Even so, it is long overdue.

With the delay of the climate bill, there has been talk about the EPA going beyond the auto industry and setting limits on carbon emissions nationwide.  In 2007, the Supreme Court granted the EPA the right to regulate GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act.  The EPA only needs to finalize its “endangerment finding,” which officially recognizes CO2 and similar gases as health threats.

It seems that many lawmakers would prefer cap-and-trade legislature to direct regulation, but EPA limits may turn out to be the fastest way to cut emissions.

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